Are there any interesting startups in Hawaii

"Purelei": Has this jewelery startup from Mannheim perfected social commerce?

Brands like Kapten & Son showed early on how they can become challengers for long-established brands with the help of influencers and a clever Instagram strategy. The founders of the Mannheim jewelry startup Purelei have also torn a page out of this playbook. We show how the team has built a 100-man company with eight-figure sales in just over three years with targeted influencers, weekly collection launch campaigns and partnerships with Westwing, Disney and Glossybox.

“I was already in Hawaii in 2012 and then did a semester abroad there during my studies. I just fell in love with the landscape and with life, ”Alisa Jahnke told OMR. She is studying business administration and yet wants to be creative herself. So Jahnke starts designing a jewelry line - inspired by Hawaii. She calls the company Purelei (pronunciation based on the English "purely", which means "pure" in German). In December 2016, things started with a Shopify shop, the first wristbands and an Instagram account. “My co-founders Etienne Espenner and Frederik Jahnke also ran a cell phone accessories shop in the first year. They started full-time at the beginning of 2018 because they saw greater potential at Purelei, ”says Jahnke. Since then, things have really gone through the roof - with influencers, collaborations and drops.

A selection of Purelei jewelry on the website

Be where the target audience is

Today, the company with 100 employees has eight-digit million sales and no longer sends its bracelets, necklaces, rings and watches only within Germany. “In the beginning we brought out products in the lower price segment - for example bracelets. That was great for the start because the customers got to know us first, ”says the founder. "We noticed relatively quickly that the brand with its story and the Hawaiian background was simply well received and quickly expanded the range to include necklaces, earrings and now also watches." Purelei sells primarily through its own shop and also through Amazon and takes care of the entire process in its own warehouse in Mannheim. And who is buying? "Our target group is between their early 20s and their mid-30s, is on social media a lot, buys a lot online and is interested in fashion and trends," says Jahnke.

Probably the best way to reach this target group as early as 2016 is influencer marketing. The young founding team knows that too: “We wrote to influencers right from the start and sent products to them. Many then also presented our jewelry. At that time I already thought that this would be the high point of influencer marketing. But it was just the beginning, ”said Jahnke. The objective at the beginning is complex. “In the beginning, revenue from influencer partnerships was very important to us. After all, we grew completely out of cash flow and we wanted to at least get the budget back, ”she says. Purelei used discount codes to measure the success of individual influencer campaigns. “For me, social proof was always the focus of influencer marketing and follower growth. Having a lot of followers simply increases the trust of potential customers. "

Trust beyond reach

The strategy is apparently working. By mentioning the jewelry on the accounts of large and small German influencers, the Purelei Instagram channel is growing rapidly to over 420,000 followers. According to the InfluencerDB analysis tool, the company is reaching precisely the target group it is aiming for: 96 percent of the followers are female, the majority between 18 and 34 years old. “We tested a lot right from the start and then quickly realized which people really fit the brand. This is a process that we too had to learn first. At the beginning, you mostly go for range, ”says Jahnke. “Some girls have been with us from the start and friendships have also developed. Above all, we rely on long-term partnerships. This enables us to plan better and that creates more trust among the followers. "

Purelei has one of these exemplary long-term collaborations with influencer Jaqueline Vazzola alias “Fashionpuglady”. She shows her more than 220,000 followers on Instagram almost every day a new outfit and wears jewelry from Purelei in many of her pictures. Sometimes she mentions the brand in the article description - often she only marks the Purelei account directly in the picture. Influencers like Vazzola are perfect for a brand like Purelei. You are an outfit role model for hundreds of thousands of young women who are most likely to be able to afford the brand's jewelry. Gold-plated chains at Purelei usually cost around 40 euros, earrings around 30 euros and watches between 90 and 150 euros.

Partnerships with young and old

“Today influencers are no longer primarily sales channels. They should be brand ambassadors, ”says founder Alisa Jahnke. That's why the company goes beyond simple Instagram deals. “Last year we brought out four collections in collaboration with influencers. This adds variety and the collections with partners are always great. ”So far, Purelei has worked with the DSDS singer Sarah Lombardi (1.4 million Instagram subscribers) and the influencers Kimberly Devlin-Mania (alias die.kim with 460,000 Subscribers) and Liz Kaeber (840,000 subscribers) designed joint pieces of jewelry.

But the young company also relies on collaborations aside from influencer deals. Purelei launched a collection inspired by the Arabian Nights when the remake of Disney's Aladdin hit theaters last year. Now the next Disney cooperation followed the planned start of Mulan. When the film then really lands in the cinemas, the jewelry should be reissued. “Working with companies like Disney creates a lot of trust among customers,” says Jahnke. Purelei has also already worked with the design player Westwing and jewelry from the company has also landed in a shipping box from Glossybox. For the Berlin Fashion Week at the beginning of 2020, Purelei also provided the jewelry for a fashion show by the well-known designer Marina Hoermanseder and thus shown itself in the fashion world.

Generate hype about new collections

“What also helped us a lot in our growth on Instagram were competitions on the channels of other brands, regular live videos on our channel and that we as founders showed our face right from the start. The community was able to get to know us directly, ”said Jahnke. Now your own Instagram account is big enough to generate attention for the products on your own. “We actually try something new on our channel every week. We do different theme weeks; Most recently, a do-it-yourself video for a jewelry store at IGTV worked extremely well, ”says the founder. The daily example of the channel is the be-all and end-all: "Instagram stories are our mouthpiece and here we keep asking which designs followers want or which of two designs they like better."

When it comes to the launch of new collections, Purelei uses its own Instagram account to generate maximum attention for the new pieces. “Last year we started teasing new products on Instagram. For example, we use pre-sales to stimulate the hype, ”says Jahnke. If you are fast enough, you can buy certain pieces before the official sale. And there are new products from Purelei on a regular basis: "We launch new products three to four times a month and always create something special for the start of sales," says Alisa Jahnke. New collections often have a motto such as currently Mother's Day or, most recently, International Women's Day. Before Corona, the team also opened pop-up stores for new product lines at regular intervals. Purelei tries to convert the attention for new pieces of jewelery directly into shop visits via the shopping function of Instagram. Every Instagram post from the company has links to the respective product's page.

Other platforms less in focus

Of course, Purelei is also active on Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube and Tiktok - but with different priorities. Despite the over 100,000 followers that Purelei has there, Facebook currently looks like a dead channel. The main aim of the posts is to draw customers directly into the shop and usually consist of a product image and cited reviews from customers - more of a shop window than a real social media channel. Perhaps that's why, according to estimates by the Similarweb analysis tool, only 15 percent of social traffic comes from Facebook - 25 percent from Instagram. Anyone who also takes a look at the advertising library must come to the conclusion that Purelei pays for a relevant part of this traffic. Purelei has currently placed a total of 102 advertisements on Facebook and Instagram - in Germany alone. According to founder Jahnke, these are also the two most important channels for the company when it comes to performance marketing.

In the long term, the team also wants to deal more intensively with YouTube. The channel is currently only followed by 646 subscribers, but it has only been really used for four months. However, YouTube is a platform that is less fast-paced and therefore easier to plan than others. And with the keyword we have already arrived at Tiktok. Purelei has already posted countless videos here and has almost 8,000 followers and 74,000 likes. Most recently, a clip with singer Vanessa Mai generated over 10,000 likes. “We are currently testing which content will go down well on Tiktok. We have a lot of creative people who are doing Tiktoks at home, ”says Alisa Jahnke. Her employees would repeatedly post Tiktok video ideas in a Slack channel, which would sometimes end up on the channel - the home office time is at least perfect for that.